by Dave Williams | Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA — President Joe Biden signed the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act Friday, legislation that approves fiscal 2023 funding requests for Georgia military bases from St. Marys to Marietta.
The annual defense bill represents a 10% increase over what the Pentagon received during the last federal fiscal year and 5% more than the Biden administration sought from Congress.
While many items on Georgia’s military wish list moved through the authorization process smoothly, the state’s congressional delegation had to mount a lobbying campaign to save the Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah, an Air National Guard facility for military pilots the administration was threatening to close. It received full funding for the coming year.
“I strongly opposed the Biden administration’s plans to downgrade or close the Combat Readiness Training Center, and I brought Republicans and Democrats together to protect it,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who worked with fellow Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, to save the center. “It is vital to our national defense, and it’s a very important military asset of the state of Georgia.”
Other Georgia-based programs earmarked for funding included A-10 fighter aircraft and HH-60W helicopters at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, C-130 aircraft at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, the new Columbia-class submarines likely to be stationed at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, hosting of the new Advanced Battle Management System at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, and strengthening the power grid at the Army’s Fort Stewart in Hinesville.
The defense bill also includes a 4.6% pay raise for the troops and a provision allowing the Pentagon to adjust the basic allowance for housing rates in areas where housing costs are high.
“I hear from Georgia military families often about how stressful and costly it can be to find adequate base housing or relocate to another base community,” Warnock said. “So, I’m particularly proud to have secured my provisions that address these issues into the final bill.”
The defense bill cleared the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month.
[This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.]